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What We Think: War Threat Still Looms
SADDAM HAS, to quote the Daily Mirror, called Bush's bluff by agreeing to the return of UN weapons inspectors.
Bush went to the UN under pressure from the huge opposition that was mounting at home and internationally to his unilateralist plans for military action against Iraq. He decided to try and use the cover of the UN, which many see as a neutral international body, to 'sell' war.
The UN is not neutral but represents the interests of the imperialist powers of which the US is by far and away the most dominant economically, politically and militarily.
His tactic seemed to be working. The Saudi regime, which had previously opposed military action, implied that it would be prepared for its bases to be used in a military attack, provided that it was sanctioned by the UN. This was undoubtedly aimed at putting pressure on Saddam to allow weapons inspectors in.
It is not certain that in the event of a war Saudi Arabia could allow its bases to be used, given the huge unrest this would create within the country, threatening the overthrow of the ruling Saudi elite itself.
The UN Security Council members, under economic and political pressure from the US, seemed to be uniting around a hardline resolution that would lead to war if Saddam refused to comply with the conditions outlined.
The US appears to be preparing to add 'impossible' conditions, including 'coercive' inspections, which would mean that weapons inspectors would be accompanied by UN troops!
Now, by agreeing to the return of weapons inspectors before a UN resolution, Saddam has thrown the ball back into the US's court. This should not have been unexpected. Saddam has a history of manoeuvring against UN resolutions and weapons inspections.
It is not possible to say exactly what the next moves will be in this complicated 'war game'. But Saddam's 'climbdown' doesn't mean that the threat of war has been averted, it may just have been delayed.
Bush and the 'war party' around him have made it clear that they will settle for nothing less than 'regime change', and that only military power is likely to bring that about. US defence secretary Rumsfeld spelt this out quite clearly when he said: "the absence of evidence does not mean the evidence is absent".
The US hawks will be looking for any pretext, real or fabricated, to pursue their agenda of military might to overthrow Saddam, regardless of the death, destruction, instability and mass unrest that this policy would unleash.
Bush's own prestige and that of the US ruling class is on the line and it's clear that if Saddam doesn't go then Bush could eventually end up going himself.
The threat of a war can only be ended by a mass movement of the working-class and youth in the US and internationally. The demonstration which is taking place in London on 28 September could be an important step towards building such a movement.
We must do all that we can to ensure that the demo is a massive show of strength as well as offering a socialist alternative to war and conflict.
In The Socialist 20 September 2002: